The OECD Development Centre convened the First Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Masculinities in Paris on 7 February 2020. The EGM aimed at exploring how the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) could incorporate a “masculinities lens” into its conceptual framework.
The meeting brought together 30 national, regional and international experts working in the areas of gender equality and masculinities. Participants included experts from research centres (ICRW, ODI), academia (Queen’s University of Belfast, The University of West Indies and the University of Geneva), non-governmental organisations (ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality, CARE International Balkans, CARE Norway and Plan International), regional networks and not-for-profit organisations (Men for Change Network, CariMAN), international organisations (UNESCO), a global consortium (Promundo- US) and an independent gender expert. In addition, 11 experts from the OECD participated in the meeting.
On behalf of CariMAN, Marlon Bascombe provided an overview of different manifestations of masculinities in the Caribbean along with a presentation on CariMAN’s work in the region. He shared on the organisation’s focus on the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence; the issue of fatherhood and men as caregivers; adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health, and adolescent pregnancies; and men’s physical and mental health. Other areas highlighted were men and mentoring, men and productivity, and men’s social and economic well-being.
One of his main assertions was that there is current crisis of masculinity in the Caribbean. Some of the symptoms he emphasized included violence, rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, substance abuse, and father absenteeism. Bascombe explained that men are generally accustomed to occupying positions of privilege and often feel threatened by the advancement of gender equality, which sometime generates a pushback against women’s rights; he cited that from his experience more and more men are asking, “Why do we not talk about toxic femininity?”
He elaborated that, in response, CariMAN works to highlight the importance of helping men understand that gender equality can be a win-win process, as it not only benefits women, but men, families, communities and society at large. According to him, this will require men to be able to see the benefits of changing harmful social norms around what it means to be a man.
More information on the OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) can be accessed from https://www.genderindex.org/.